Update from Ryana Holt
Posted on November 28, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
Ryana sends her love and affection to us from down in Concepcion, Chile. Check out what our own missionary amiga is up to these days:
New blossoms of purples, pinks, whites, yellows, and greens are everywhere when you look around. There are gorgeous spring days now, showing off God’s gift of new life and a new season after much rain and cold.
It was one of these days when I made my way to worship with congregation San Pablo.
It took a while to catch a colectivo (shared taxi) to church, as sometimes happens on Sunday mornings. Upon arrival, I quietly made my way up to sit next to Connie, a 23 year old who sometimes participates in our Friday English classes. She shared her hymnal with me and together with the congregation we sang, listened to the sermon, went through the liturgy and prayed.
And I, as usual, contemplated the mural behind the altar, a copy of Cena Ecológica by Maximino Cerezo Barredo. The mural is an incredible last supper interpretation with South American influence:
Some things I notice: It is outside, between day and night. Jesus has already risen again (marks).The disciples are diverse like South America is. They sit on the ground, barefoot. What do you notice?
Congregation San Pablo has my favorite sanctuary space because of this mural. It reminds me that representation and art are powerful ways to inspire, reflect, and inform. We are given another idea of what disciples look like these days. We are given another glimpse of those Jesus chooses to hang out with. When we see this we are more likely to open our hearts to more ideas, people, and diversity.
During announcements, Connie informed us of her initiative to start an ecumenical young adults group with a “critical edge”, a space she’s wanted to be part of and hasn’t found. The support poured out. This congregation has a knack for examining current events alongside the Bible so her inspiration made sense.
Like the beautiful spring day emitted, I felt a wave of new hope and life, reflected in the closing hymn, Tengo que gritar.
This hymn is based on the prophet Jeremiah. Before Chile I hadn’t heard it. However, its essence and the way people sing it reach me in a way most other hymns don’t. We sang it twice. As patient teachers, the Pastor and guitarist took time to explain to me part of the history the Chilean Lutheran community has with this hymn.
The hymn was used during the dictatorship as part of the Christian community’s resistance. It was a hymn and an anthem. Like for the prophet Jeremiah it was terrifying and dangerous speak out against such powers and evil; yet, for the good of all, they did. The Lutheran church specifically was active and brave in how they worked to save lives. I could imagine how these words ripped through their veins and lit their hearts.
In our world today, in Chile, in the US, in our churches, everywhere really, there are things to speak out about. There are false prophets. There is violence against God’s people (specifically people of color, migrants, etc.), from personal to systemic levels. There is lots of death and dying. You can find this even in church pews. Whether or not we agree on what this looks like, I believe we can all agree on the fact things are often dark. Connie knows that. That’s what she wants her group to look at, act on.
To me, the pairing of the hymn & Connie’s announcement of the young adults group was the Holy Spirit.
Chorus x2: (1) Tengo que gritar, tengo que arriesgar, (2) Tengo que andar, tengo que luchar, ¡Ay de mi si no lo hago! Cómo escapar de ti, cómo no hablar, Si tu voz me quema dentro.
(1) I must yell, take risks, (2) I must go about, I have to fight, Woe to me if I do not! How could I escape from you, or stay silent, If your voice burns inside of me.
Verse 2: No temas arriesgarte porque contigo yo estaré no temas anunciarme
Verse 2: Do not be afraid to take chances because I will be with you do not be afraid to speak about me,
porque en tu boca yo hablaré, te encargo hoy mi pueblo, para arrancar y derribar, para edificar, destruirás y plantarás
because I will speak through you, Today I’m putting you, my people, in charge to start and to tear down, to build, you will destroy and you will plant.
I included the second verse for this reason. Be courageous. Take chances. Realize God is with you as you tear down old structures and plant new ones. Isn’t that what Connie wants to do? Go out to create newness following Jesus?
Maybe we need to do tearing down in order to build back up. In order to replant. Take off our shoes. Sit in the dirt with our diverse neighbors. See a risen again Jesus among us. Answer his call to be love and courage in a dark, violent world filled with false prophets which is also a beautiful world with blooming flowers, good friends, big love and joyful moments.
Just like the season of spring reminds us, death is not the end but an opportunity for new life and replanting.
Prayer Requests from Ryana:
For the young leaders in our churches and for others to see
them, value them, and let them lead.
For communities post disaster or terrorism, for their healing
For the IELCH as it builds its mission and vision.
For me as I look to close out my time well in Concepción at the
end of December, and move North to Santiago.
Feel free to follow all of Ryana’s adventures and musings at her blog: https://ryanaholt.wordpress.com/